Archive for Thursday, July 21, 2005

USD 491 votes to increase mill authority

July 21, 2005

When it comes to improving Eudora USD 491's buildings and facilities, Superintendent Marty Kobza now has more options.

The Board of Education's second vote last Thursday in favor of raising the district's taxing authority for its capital outlay fund finalized an earlier resolution approved in June.

The board now has the ability to levy up to 8 mills of local property taxes for the fund. Before the resolution, the district's levy authority was capped at 4 mills.

"With this ability to go up to 8 mills, a lot of options are in front of you, depending on where the mill rate comes in," Kobza said.

At the 4-mill rate, the district raised about $150,000 in funds in the 2004-2005 school year for capital outlay projects such as improving safety near the track or adding more classroom space.

With the increased authority, the district will have the ability to raise $300,000.

If the district decides to exercise the new authority, it would have to go through a legal process that includes two publications in The Eudora News and would be subject to a protest petition.

If 10 percent of the district's registered voters signed a protest petition, a yes vote in a districtwide referendum would be required before the board could tap into the extra authority.

Among the possible uses for the increased funding authority is a new stadium or adding trailer classrooms at Nottingham Elementary School.

"We all know that we need to have a new stadium," said Board president Greg Neis.

If the board decides to follow those options, it would supplement the funds by looking at other funding alternatives, including lease-to-own payment plans.

"You've got to look at the numbers first to decide what's going to be most beneficial to the taxpayers," Kobza said.

If the district exercises the added authority for capital improvement, it would be part of an eventual process that might eventually decrease the district's overall mill levy, Kobza said.

"With those ideas in mind this gives us an opportunity to potentially raise the mill rate in an area where we can spend money on those items, and at the same time keep the overall mill rate steady or bring it down a bit," Kobza said.

Kobza and the board will be taking a retreat in August to focus on space issues and a new stadium along with other items.

"It truly is a balancing act," Kobza said.

In the meantime, Kobza sees the utility in the decision.

"I think we have the opportunity to address some issues that need to be addressed in the district," Kobza said.

Other board members saw it similarly.

"It just gives the ability to be flexible," said board member Mark Chrislip.

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